Today, I operated on a rat.

Physiology labs at the beginning of the semester started off on the boring side of interesting because many of them were conducted with computer simulation software (we had SimNeuron, SimMuscle, … you get the gist) that generated the data for us. Some time in the last few weeks, though, the labs have gotten interactive and fun! It started off when we measured the effects of certain vasodilators and vasoconstrictors on a biopsied rat aorta. We’ve also done ECGs one one another, taken blood pressure in various physical states, and listened to heart sounds to complement our cardiovascular unit. Today’s lab was probably the pinnacle of the semester: each lab group operated on a live, anesthetized rat to study the effect of vagus stimulation! Even our professor had been looking forward to it for a while. At the last class, he reminded us enthusiastically that it was “VAGUS, BABY!” coming up 🙂

Lest the word “operate” gives the wrong impression I will preface by saying that each rat was sacrificed after the experiment with a high dose of KCl injected into the heart, while still under anesthesia. I think and hope it did not suffer at all.

MedDramaPoster_lg

Our standard white lab rat came to us fully sedated by the lab technician. We picked it up and laid it out on a glass stretcher. The first task was to cut open the chest and find the trachea for intubation. Strictly speaking, this was not necessary for the vagus investigation, but it was a good experience for us to have. This required “atraumatically” tearing through some layers of muscle and making a “T”-shaped incision in the trachea through which a cannula was inserted, all of which Rina did expertly!

Then, we located the carotid artery, which is relatively large and easy to identify because of its pulsation. The vagus nerve, in contrast, is a minuscule strip on the underside of the artery. Priyanka and a Hungarian student joining us for the day separated the nerve, and placed an electrical insulator under it. For the next part of the experiment, we inserted subcutaneous ECG leads, placed an electrode on the nerve, and measured the heart rate. (Because of the nerve’ parasympathetic function, stimulation of the nerve led to a reduction in heart rate. Administering atropine, a parasympathetic antagonist, reversed the effect.)

Afterwards, the official experiment was over, but we dissected the rest of the rat to see its internal organs, all so similar to humans’ viscera. The set-up looked something like by then: this [warning! not for the squeamish]. We also cut into the head and removed the brain. Although some found this extra dissection a bit gruesome, I felt better knowing that we got the most out of the sacrificed life.

Initially, I was actually bit skeptical that the lab experiment was worth the life. Couldn’t this be one of the simulated ones? In retrospect, though, it was about more than the physiology of the vagus nerve. It was the first time I had ever cut into something living, and also the first time I killed a mammal (not that I kill other classes of animals on the regular or anything, but I have no mercy when it comes to bugs!). It’s a different facet of medicine from all the theory stuffed into our heads these years, and one necessitating a prepared emotional response. This was “just a lab rat”, but soon, it won’t be!

Today, that’s what SHE said!

And tis a crazy day! Today, I just feel like celebrating women, because I just feel like it. I’m just providing four random quotes from awesome women below — Please share with us any of your favorite quotes (by women or men or anyone or anything)!

On Pretty Men (or Man) – 


via buzzfeed.com

All women love Colin Firth: Mr. Darcy, Mark Darcy, George VI—at this point he could play the Craigslist Killer and people would be like, ‘Oh my God, the Craigslist Killer has the most boyish smile!
― Mindy Kaling

On Science –


via telegraph.co.uk

I am among those who think that science has great beauty. A scientist in his laboratory is not only a technician: he is also a child placed before natural phenomena which impress him like a fairy tale.
― Marie Curie

On beauty – 


via tumblr.com

“If you retain nothing else, always remember the most important rule of beauty, which is: who cares?”
Tina Fey

On getting places –


via leanmagazine.net

“My dear, here we must run as fast as we can, just to stay in place. And if you wish to go anywhere you must run twice as fast as that.”
― The Queen, Alice in Wonderland

Today, I’ve got butterflies in my stomach… what about you?

Teehee… here’s a topic that we don’t mention much, but we do have a section up there (^^ feel free to browse our blog topics using our menu up top) .. what about a little more romantic aspects of our lives? Well, I certainly am lacking in that department at the moment. I’ll let the other -arkies speak for themselves.

Image via whicdn.com

Kicking off this love/relationship series, I’m starting to get butterflies in my stomach! It’s a feeling that I’ve come to both like and dislike. My mind is a whirlwind (tornado) of thoughts: Eye contact.. no eye contact… cheeks are feeling a little warm…. ehhhhhh…. let me run away… RAWR! From a more scientific perspective, the butterflies happen due to a reduction of blood flow to the stomach. The blood is, literally, getting stolen by my HEART! Heart racing, increased blood pressure? All part of it. Welp, there you have it. I was wondering why my heart started racing a little when I saw someone. 🙂 Maybe I should have pulled out my blood pressure kit (yep, I come prepared) and checked my blood pressure right then and there. Have you had this feeling lately? Is it something you enjoy? Or would you rather just skip this entire part of courtship (or lack-of courtship in my case)? hehe

That fluttery feeling that you feel in your stomach at the sight of a new love or sight of, let’s say, Anderson Cooper/Joseph Gordon-Levitt/Wang Leehom/[insert name] … is caused by the release of adrenaline in the fight-or-flight response!

Interested in learning more? Here’s an article from a while ago that I remember reading.

Today, I’m working…and I need a job

I’m currently developing a one week science and math (hold the math, temporarily) program for the 10th-11th graders at the school in Haiti. But they’ve never had science lab before or anything like that so my demos will definitely be more middle school level. If y’all have any suggestions on fun and easy (to explain) science-y things, lemme know!

I’m also currently freaking out, y’all. I mean, I’m thinking grad school, law school, med school (wha???)….what if I made the wrong decision and never get a job and stay here forever. My mom would love that. I am already not loving it. I know my fears are exaggerated but seriously I’m at such a crossroads right now…but I can’t see any of the roads around me!

I just wanna work on my dreamers series and get a move on, travelin’ around the world. What if I start a kickstarter account? Will you help me edit my proposal? Any one of you have grant writing powers?

Wait. I have decided what to do. I’m listening to “Defying Gravity” right now and have decided….I’m going to become green and audition for Wicked. I’m sure they’d applaud my dedication to the character, non?